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Looking at the world as a whole: Mary Midgley, 1919-2018

The great philosopher had a pluralistic view and made puncturing scientific pretension into an art form. She spoke to Prospect a few weeks before her death, aged 99

By James Garvey   December 2018

Photo: Leon Harris/eyevine

Just a few weeks before her death in October, Mary Midgley agreed to meet and discuss her new book, What Is Philosophy For? It seemed astonishing that someone about to celebrate her 99th birthday had a new book out, but I was less in awe of that than the reputation of one of the most important British philosophers of the 20th century and beyond.

People who have encountered Midgley often use the word “formidable” to describe her. Journalist Andrew Brown called her “the most frightening philosopher in the country: the one…

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